Thursday, October 10, 2013

eroi


EROI

Thank you dear minion for pointing out the latest article on the Frack Oil Fiasco which included the numbers for EROI, or Energy Return On Investment.  We’ve talked about this before and it is easily thought about as Net Energy.  Gross amount is the weight of a can of peaches.  Net weight is the weight JUST of the food inside.  Gross is not really as important as net.  When you talk about the gross energy from corn ethanol, you are ignoring the regular petroleum used to farm and transport the corn in the first place.  Even if you used ethanol to power all machinery used in growing the corn, you must subtract that from your total amount or your figures make no sense.  And of course, the artificial fertilizers you used, typically imported from overseas, are from natural gas anyway.  Ethanol has a disgusting EROI, anywhere from a fraction of one to one or three to one.  Seen as: .05-1 or 2-1 or 3-1.  Yes, in some cases ethanol provides a negative return on energy invested.  You used a barrel of oil and another half barrel equivalent in natural gas and got a single barrel in return.  But, ethanol is a favorite whipping boy and we can ignore that from now on.  Let’s just focus on oil and natural gas, leaving ethanol alone.  Just call it Big Ag Corp welfare. 

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If you look at this as a list, the numbers should, as long as you aren’t a Frack Fag, scare the crap out of you.

EROI RATES

1930 U.S. 100-1

1970 US 30-1

2000 US 11-1

1999 GLOBALLY 35-1

2006 GLOBAL 18-1

Current SHALE OIL 5-1

Current TAR SAND 2-1 to 4-1

This is pretty simple.  In 1930, it took one barrel of oil to get 100 out of the ground.  Shortly thereafter we were able to win a world war with that fuel.  Right before the Arabs cleaned our clocks we were down to only getting thirty barrels out of the ground for every one used ( and this would soon look really good ).  And come Y2k it was an embarrassing 11 to 1.  I would wager today it is even lower since both the Gulf Of Mexico and Alaska are pretty much played out.  If Canada with its 4-1 tar sand is our #1 oil importer ( we import 60%+ of our daily oil needs ), our domestic supply numbers are probably similar.  What I find fascinating is the global numbers.  To me, that huge short time span drop verifies that Saudi Arabia is NOT pumping from its old monster field as much as it is the newer coastal water fields, typically a much lower EROI.  Why is it important?  Remember the global economy being reliant on oil for growth?  Remember that growth fuels banks.  Without banks, all trade ceases ( at least in the West ).  And we need trade to keep our oil coming in.  And oil feeds us.  We have obviously reached and passed the peak of our civilization.  It WILL end, and I wouldn’t bet my life it won’t end soon.  But that’s just me.

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8 comments:

  1. There was an article on ZH that listed those numbers while reporting that Shell was pulling out of their tar fields as well. Not too long ago I read an interesting piece that skipped the actual EIEO numbers for the Dakota fields but did show the truly amazingly large and devastating payroll and employee numbers that were needed and just how far that was eroding the bottom line. Apparently hockey stick production numbers are already dropping fast too.

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    1. Remember when the Saudi coastal rigs were going in? That alone used up a huge percentage of global rig capacity. Apparently we don't appreciate how intensive low EROI is. Financial and material.

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  2. Lord Bison - I believe in peak oil, but other than the increased prices we see at the pump (which are at least partially influence by inflation), I'm just not seeing the effects.

    Am I blind? Where's the beef? Sure, I don't feel that awesome about owning a vehicle (arrrggghhh, the cost!), but the silver lining is that it is damn fuel efficient (30+ mpg).

    My fantasy was to sell the damned thing for at least what I paid for it, once the prices of fuel begin to really climb. This is the slowest collapse a guy could ever experience. Did the Roman survivalists feel frustrated when it took friggin' 300 years for their civilization to collapse?

    I think I'm losing faith in peak oil as *the collapse*. But that's ok - at least I still have a pending economic collapse to fuel my paranoia.

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    1. PO as the collapse disappointed me, much more than the Y2K fissle. So, its causing the economic collapse much slower. I just can't shake the feeling we will see a waterfall effect in oil, happening just as we become complacent in slow collapse.

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  3. Ethanol production was the beginning of biofuels in the alcohol family. Bio-butanol is the latest and very comparable with gasoline in energy efficiency, 29millijoules/liter versus 32 for gas. No less than Vinod Khosla himself (founder of SUN systems, and the man who said we have created a life form based on silicon that will destroy us all eventually) is heavily invested in biofuel production.
    The question is: Can biofuels save us from a collapse in oil production? Yes and no. Biofuels right now can provide areas of the country with sufficient energy to be independent of oil production. That is why the oil industry is spending millions lieing about biofuels,and how they are robbing the country of food and other nonsense. At this point there is no way biofuels can save this way of life for the world or USA. We can produce energy from the Sun through plant matter economically on a regional scale. In time we may be able to expand this to world scale though I would hope fusion would be available before this becomes necessary.
    Personally, I see no way this country can pull its head out of its ass and square things away before some sort of collapse happens,be it resource based or man made. There are just too many fools in government to prevent any improvement in our energy situation.

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    1. Bio-fuel is the perfect answer, but not for an Industrial Age. For an Advanced Ag Age, perhaps. But without the Industrial Age, farming can't be mechanized from the start. War Between the States was an Industrial economy against an Ag one. Without the infrastructure already in place, the South barely got above imports for all thier needs. So, after a Industrial Age, we could in theory devolve to mechanized farming, but we couldn't sustain that. I'd wager, given future ore density issues ( like we have currently ), without real petroleum an Industrial Age is impossible. You could start with low grade fuels but as soon as the ores are no longer pure and dense and shallow, its over.

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  4. peek oil is no problem
    some day the scientumists will harvest the oil in you're hair
    then you be da winnar

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    Replies
    1. How long must I wait? I won't live forever.

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